Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An enabling troop misdirects a psychologist jail.

Bethenny Frankel - Some people just inspire a particular brand of unadulterated, illogical HAAATE. Vomitous hatred. Witness Bethenny Frankel. Of all the obnoxious Housewives of Bravo, she's the most repugnant. I'd rather spend 24 hours trapped in a bell jar with Snookie than an hour with Bethenny. She of the most insincere smile EVER started grating on my nerves when she worked her way up to 2nd place in Martha Stewart's criminally underrated version of The Apprentice, and I hoped that was the last we'd see of her. But a few years later, I saw her infiltrate "The Real Housewives of New York City." I threw my fan across the room, shook my fingernails, and pranced out of the room, all "I can't. I just can't." But that wasn't enough. After that, she had TWO companion series. I know there's a lesson to learn from her about self-promotion and marketing, but dear GOD put this woman out of my misery!

Wayne Brady - Fell in love with him pretty much at first sight on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Damn, but those tight sweaters did wonders for his chest and arms. Not to mention those hyperkinetic impromptu pushups...the best ones seen publicly since Jack Palance. Haven't seen Wayne for awhile, but then noticed tonight that he was gonna be on next week's Drag Race. SWOON.

Frank Neuhauser - Frank who? That's what most people would say. But for spelling bee aficionados like myself, Monday was a sad day. Frank Neuhauser died, aged 97. He was the winner of the first National Spelling Bee, back in 1925. It was a tiny bee...only 9 contestants at the time, with words like "catch" and "black" in the first round. His winning word, the comparably difficult "gladiolus," would be an easy word at nationals nowadays - even in the first round. He's been a guest at some of the most recent national competitions, and I'm bummed that I never got a chance to meet him. Perhaps, instead, I'll plant a gladiolus or two in his honor in the yard this year as we do our landscaping. (And incidentally, isn't that picture of him in that article signing autographs sweet? He looks so happy. And even cooler, how great is it that kids are crowding around him and paying him such respect? You don't see that sort of thing much anymore.)

Claire Danes - What in the world has happened to her? Where have you gone, Angela Chase? God. One of my favorite snarkmeisters of all time, clad in flannel and tights and angst and one of the coolest haircuts of the '90s. Excellent hair color, too. Man, she wore the weight of the world on her shoulders, and I felt it, too. Misery loved company. But have you seen her recently? All that attitude has dried up and blown away. She's become a faceless Hollywood modelesque starlet, the likes of which I almost wouldn't have recognized, were it not pointed out to me that it really was Claire Danes. I guess it would be unfair to demand that she stay the same Angela Chase through the years, but I hoped she would have retained some of that angst. (See also: Ryder, Winona, though to a lesser extent.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Adventures in Puddletown, part 2

So, a minor update on yours truly before we get to the subject matter you all came to enjoy. Woke up bright and early to a crisp, sunny morning. Running out the door, spilled coffee on my tie, so I had to run back upstairs. Showed up at Bally to get in a workout before work, but it was closed and wouldn't open until 8, damn it all. Then I show up at work, and the computer we all rely on to print out schedules is exhibiting the black screen of death and constantly rebooting. It's gonna be one of those mornings. At least I have Avenue Q to look forward to this afternoon. And perhaps a switch of my club membership over to 24 Hour Fitness. I've heard they're better, anyhow.

Anyhoo...back up to Portland...

Blue Moon - There's a chain of pub-style restaurants in Portland called McMenamins, with basically the same menu. Some variation here and there, but if you want good, reliable pub grub, this is the place. Blue Moon is my favorite, if only because it was the closest one to the blessed studio I inhabited at 2151 NW Johnson for six months. A good dark interior, lots of pool tables, floor-to-ceiling windows, and of course, the place smells like beer, like a good pub should. Since it's Portland, you know there's gonna be tons of microbrews on the menu. Oh, and the bonus this time? Tater tots with my burger.

3 Friends - The bohemian coffeehouse (oh, wait...this is Portland, right? All coffeehouses are bohemian here, even the where us gay boys would meet before a night on the town, or at least dinner. We'd spend the first half hour just hanging out, then spend the next fracking half hour trying to decide where to eat dinner. Did I say bohemian? Yeah. Barely-running toilets, lots of wacky artwork, couches unafraid to show their inner parts to the world, and a front doorknob that rattled and jiggled like crazy, like it was about to fall off. That was the early 2000s. When I returned, apparently nothing had changed...except for the doorknob, which was now wired onto the rest of the door. I considered contributing some of my well-earned to the "get this damned door a new handle!" fund...and maybe I should have. Oh, and much less gay during the day. Oh well.

Marco's - I didn't go to this umbrella-ceilinged breakfast nook this time, but back in the day, Marco's had THE most awesome omelettes and coffee. And by coffee, I mean espresso-strength. I would have loved to drink more than one cup, but I would have been zooming all day and all of the night if I dared. And by omelettes, I mean gobs of molten cheese and thick black-label bacon with just enough egg to cover the whole thing.

Coffee Time - A personal anecdote: the night before I was to move away from my studio in NW Portland, I spent ALL night packing. So at 7:00 the next morning, I decided I owed it to myself to get some coffee and coffeecake at this place a block away. Very bohemian here...dreads, lip piercings, appropriate '90s noise blasting through the speakers, that sort of thing. Got my goods, downed them, then decided to get just a half hour nap before finishing up packing. I didn't even get that. Only 15 minutes later, I got a call from Mr. Man.
Three weeks prior, we had met for the first time, and he offered me a ticket to see Madonna in LA. He also offered to fly to Portland from Denver, pick me up, and then fly down first class.

But over the phone, with panic in his voice, he told me that we were not going to be flying anywhere anytime soon. Terrorists had just flown two planes into the World Trade Center.

(Incidentally, if you like the bumper sticker up top, pick it up here! Because keeping Portland weird simply isn't enough.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Adventures in Puddletown, part 1

I'm sitting here in PDX, waiting on a flight back to Denver that's now delayed 2.5 or 3.5 hours, depending on whether I believe the Orbitz updates sent to my Android or the flight departure boards. Either way, I'm now afforded some downtime before the phantom flight arrives from Denver.

I can't believe it's been almost 5 years since I was last in Puddletown, and almost 8 since I last drove here. As such, my rented transportation appliance enabled me to indulge in some pretty cool nostalgia. I mean, I spent a good 4 years here, possibly the most life-changing years of all. But although it was a good place to live for four years, I probably could not live here.

For one, people here drive WAAAY too slowly. (Oregon is the only western state with a speed limit of 65 - slowest of 'em all.) When I first moved here, I was thrilled that Portland drivers seemed to be so polite, allowing me to cross multiple lanes when I realized that I had to turn right, not left. They drove slowly and allowed me in without hesitation if I needed to cut in front of them unexpectedly. And it stayed that way for three weeks. But then I learned how to navigate Puddletown, and by then, I realized that this driving-slightly-under-the-speed-limit thing was not politesse, but the MO. Well, I like to drive, I like to be in control, and I am positively thrilled to be moving at a glacial pace on the road. Especially if I have a flame thrower or a bazooka handy with which to obliterate mealymouthed drivers in front of me.

From a weather perspective, I love four well-defined seasons, and Portland only has two: rain and sun. And even with that, the rain isn't all that wild. More like annoying drizzle that falls from pea soup skies - no texture to the clouds at all. If you hear more than three thunderclaps in a year, that's pretty severe. And if more than 1/4 inch of snow falls, the whole city shuts down. For those of you in warmer climes, you may commiserate, but guess what: this Colorado boy scoffs unapologetically at this sort of thing. So there. But on the other hand, summer in the Pacific Northwest is one awesome secret. Gorgeous, warm, comfortable, very little rain (!), and sun for weeks on end. Even can get amazingly hot, with heat waves above 100, the likes of which even Denver rarely sees.

A traipse down nostalgia lane here:

Russellville - The apartment complex where Mr. Man and I first lived together. We drove together from Denver and arrived in Portland in time for a very uneventful New Year's Day, 2002. Thus continued my stint in medical school, and thus began possibly the worst phase of Mr. Man's life: being unemployed in a town he'd never been in, with no friends, arriving from the land of 300 days of sunshine a year and landing smack-dab in the middle of a typical gray, miserable, sunless winter. You never realize how much you depend on the sun for sustenance until you're forcibly deprived of it for months on end. And man, it made him depressed. Going back "home" to the place we first started forging our relationship under some pretty difficult circumstances was really poignant.

NCNM - The reason I moved to Portland for 4 years. Kick-ass school. It was great to return, and everything brought me back: the smells, the staircases, the stories of the water that somehow had magical powers of fertility (in our class of 100, we had 10 births). But man, sitting for hours in this weekend seminar also brought back the drudgery and annoyance of being ground under by schoolwork. Don't miss it one bit. And I have to admit...the more I see the typical naturopathic student, the more it makes me cringe. It's the (almost always) woman that looks entitled to being upwardly mobile, driving a Prius, doing yoga multiple times a week, shopping almost exclusively at Whole Foods or the like (because even for these students, shopping at co-ops is a bit beneath them), wearing the latest Columbia gear...oh, heck, you see them in magazines like Real Simple or Martha Stewart Living. You kinda wonder if they've ever been mediocre at any point in their lives, or had to deal with any sort of poverty or even middle-class status.

CC Slaughters - The gay club I used to go to all the time, very neighborhood bar-ish. Loved it. It used to have gay porn playing on the monitors to scare away the straight boys. I cultivated my first bartender least until Mr. Man happened on the scene, and the bartender suddenly grew jealous and my drinks suddenly grew more opaque. I came back on Mardi Gras weekend, filled with guys I once would have considered more or less my peers, but who now are anklebiters to me. Damn, I'm getting old. (Incidentally, I also happened to see a guy who I once dated a few times and unwittingly screwed over. Also also, saw the guy I had my first LTR with. Last I saw him was actually at Slaughters, the night before I drove away from Portland in 2003. Being a particularly furry cub, he was being tossed around and groped by horny bears, and just lapping up the attention. Kinda disturbing to see that...not to mention that it also made me jealous as hell. Oh well.)

Delta Cafe - Good Southern cooking just doesn't exist in Denver, so I got my fix here. It was the second restaurant I went to when I first moved to Puddletown. If you don't mind a really bohemian vibe and Sonic Youth blasting from the speakers, it's all good. Man, is it good. Collards practically soaking in bacon drippings. Some hellaciously decadent mac 'n' cheese. Fiied chicken that puts KFC to shame. Jambalaya, gumbo, etouffee, red beans and rice, andouille sausage...the whole thing just gets me hungry...and I just had lunch not even an hour ago.